10 SES 12 B, Research on Programmes and Pedagogical Approaches in Teacher Education
Mindfulness is a growing field of research in medicine, psychology, education, and neuroscience (Van Dam, et al., 2018). It has been described as a construct comprising three dimensions, which are of high relevance in education:
a) the ability to direct one’s attention to the inner (introspective) and outer experience of the present moment,
b) an attitude of non-judgmentality, openness, kindness and compassion,
c) combined with the ability to observe one’s experience clearly, in ‘high resolution’ and with metacognitive awareness while being fully engaged in the experience (Young 2016).
There is ample evidence for the multiple benefits of mindfulness and the practices by which it is acquired (such as meditation and related individual and social practices). Research shows positive effects i. on physical and mental health and well-being, ii. on attention regulation (vigilance, focusing, and conflict monitoring), and iii. on emotion regulation and relationship skills (Lyons & DeLange, 2016). These are discussed as having positive impact on coping with current challenges (such as skillful use of ICT technology). In consequence, numerous mindfulness-based programs have been developed and implemented in schools worldwide. Their evaluations show positive effects on academic learning, school atmosphere and individual flourishing (Zoogman, Goldberg, Hoyt & Miller, 2015) and there is a growing number of training offers for in-service teachers that accompany the implementation of these programs (Schonert-Reichl & Roeser, 2016).
But despite of this international and scientifically well-scaffolded implementation of mindfulness into school-based education there is hardly any discussion on how to prepare teacher students for this task and how to integrate this topic into the first phase of teacher education at universities – though pre-service teacher training is supposed to be of fundamental importance for the acquisition of the related attitudes and skills. This is deplorable, since first research studies show promising perspectives not only in regard of the future benefits that school students may draw from school-based mindfulness programs but also in regard of the positive effects on the development of the teacher students themselves. According to a first Canadian pilot study (Soloway, 2016), the implementation of mindfulness into pre-service teacher education tends to foster the development of
- reflective skills – especially the reflection in action that Schön (1987) called for and that is hard to train in university environments,
- a professional and simultaneously personal teacher identity,
- social and emotional competences (SEC) – which are necessary prerequisites for the implementation of social and emotional learning (SEL) programs,
- strategies for coping with failure – which is an inevitable experience in teaching, and
- engagement in one’s own personal development during the years at the university.
In Europe, up to now only one larger pilot project on mindfulness in pre-service teacher education has been implemented and published so far, the ‘Wiener Modell’ at the University of Vienna (Valtl, 2016; ALBUS, 2019). This training – delivered over the last 4 years to approx. 300 university students – combines the classical academic format of a two semester-hour seminar with the well evaluated format of an eight-week mindfulness course (e.g. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, MBSR). Currently this training program is being evaluated in a controlled mixed-method study (see method below) and first results are now available.
This paper will
a) provide an outline of the ‘Wiener Modell’ of pre-service teacher education – its aims, contents, and challenges – and
b) present the first results of the on-going evaluation, which spot the wide range of potential benefits of mindfulness for personal and professional development of teacher students.
c) As a conclusion, it will give recommendations for the design and implementation of pre-service teacher education programs on mindfulness and compassion.
The research methods applied in the evaluation vary according to the step of evaluation: In step 1, desktop research is applied to identify the overlap of the two discourses on a) mindfulness and b) teacher education, which up to now are maintained by almost completely different scientific communities. In step 2, a questionnaire-based pre-post-design is applied with 3 intervention groups and 3 control groups (N=200) at 3 universities in 2 countries. The questionnaire is a custom-made combination of well-established international scales on mindfulness, compassion, well-being and other crucial variables. The results of this quantitative survey will be processed in a multivariate statistical analysis. In step 3, the focus is on the lived experience of the students in a mindfulness-based university seminar, accessed by journal entries through phenomenological analysis. In step 4, semi-structured interviews with the university teachers are applied to reveal their educational beliefs and subjective theories on teaching that influence design and performance of the respective seminars. The methods applied in the teaching of the seminars will be described as well, as these partly are different from traditional methods of teaching at the university and thus need to be discussed critically. Such methods applied here are: • body work settings (such as yoga) designed to raise bodily awareness and embodied presence, • meditative settings (such as breath awareness meditation) designed to raise focus of attention and equanimity, • communication settings (such as inquiry and insight dialogue) designed to raise interpersonal mindfulness, deep listening, and subtle reflection of experience. The discussion of these methods will track the potential beneficial effects and transformative impacts as well as the possible frictions in relation to the mainstream of didactics in higher education.
As a conclusion, there will be given recommendations for the design and implementation of pre-service teacher education programs on mindfulness and compassion in universities. These address e.g. • the embedding of this topic/seminar into the curriculum of pre-service teacher education, • the format and contents of this seminar, • its didactics, which comprise elements of contemplative teaching (Barbezat & Bush, 2014) and topic-specific teaching methods (see methods), and • the role of the students in the seminar – their first-person experience as the basis of inquiry, their well-being as part of the teaching objectives, and their ownership of the educational process. An outlook will address the prerequisites of transfer, using the outcomes of the comparative quantitative analysis of the seminars in three different universities and estimating the degree of dependence on the individual personal competencies of the university teachers. In the end, there will be given recommendations regarding the qualification of university teachers for teaching this topic, taking into account the existing standards of teaching mindfulness in other fields of education (Crane, et al., 2012).
Achtsamkeit in LehrerInnenbildung und Schule [ALBUS]. (2019). Project website. Retrieved January 30, 2019, from https://achtsamkeit.univie.ac.at/lehrangebot/. Barbezat, D. P., Bush, M. (2014). Contemplative practices in higher education: Powerful methods to transform teaching and learning. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Crane, R. S., Soulsby, J. G., Kuyken, W., Williams, J. M. G., & Eames, C., Bartley, T., . . . Silverton, S. (2012). The Bangor, Exeter and Oxford mindfulness-based interventions teaching assessment criteria (MBI-TAC) [PDF file]. Retrieved from https://www.bangor.ac.uk/mindfulness/documents/MBI-TACMay2012.pdf Lyons, K. E., & DeLange, J. (2016). Mindfulness matters in the classroom: The effects of mindfulness training on brain development and behavior in children and adolescents. In K. A. Schonert-Reichl & W. R. Roeser (Eds.), Handbook of mindfulness in education: Integrating theory and research into practice (pp. 271-283). New York, NY: Springer. Schön, D. A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner: Toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Schonert-Reichl, K. A., & Roeser, W. R. (2016). Handbook of mindfulness in education: Integrating theory and research into practice. New York, NY: Springer. Soloway, G. B. (2016). Preparing teacher students for the present: Investigating the value of mindfulness training in teacher education. In K. A. Schonert-Reichl & W. R. Roeser (Eds.), Handbook of mindfulness in education: Integrating theory and research into practice (pp. 191-205). New York, NY: Springer. Valtl, K. (2016). Mindfulness in pre-service teacher education at the University of Vienna [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://www.eduvision.si/Content/Docs/Pre-service%20teacher%20education%20in%20mindfulness%20(Presentation).pdf Van Dam,N. T., van Vugt,M. K., Vago,D. R., Schmalzl, L., Saron, C. D., Olendzki, A., . . . Meyer, D. E. (2018). Mind the hype: A critical evaluation and prescriptive agenda for research on mindfulness and meditation. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(1), 36-61. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617709589 Young, S. S. (2016): What is mindfulness? A contemplative perspective. In K. A. Schonert-Reichl & W. R. Roeser (Eds.), Handbook of mindfulness in education: Integrating theory and research into practice (pp. 29-46). New York, NY: Springer. Zoogman, S., Goldberg, S. B., Hoyt, W. T., & Miller, L. (2015). Mindfulness interventions with yout: A meta-analysis. Mindfulness, 6(2), 290-302.
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